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New York subpoenas Trump, children in fraud probe

New York – New York’s top justice official has subpoenaed ex-president Donald Trump, his son Don Jr. and daughter Ivanka in her investigation into the family’s business dealings, a court filing showed yesterday.

State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, issued the subpoenas seeking their testimony in her years-long civil probe last month, according to the document.

The filing came to light after the Washington Post reported in December that James had asked Trump to testify in person at her office on January 7.

Yesterday’s legal filing was the first time investigators have said that they also want to quiz Trump’s two eldest children under oath.

Following the Post’s report, Trump sued James, arguing that she was violating his constitutional rights with a politically motivated investigation.

“Despite numerous attempts to delay our investigation by the Trump Organisation, we are confident that our questions will be answered and the truth will be uncovered because no one is above the law,” said a spokesperson for James yesterday.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for the Trumps, indicated that the family would challenge the subpoenas.

“The way she has weaponised her office through this political witch hunt exceeds all bounds of prosecutorial standards and violates basic constitutional right,” Habba said of James.

“Her actions are a threat to our democracy and I plan to hold her accountable to the fullest extent,” she added.

James is probing whether the Trump Organisation may have illegally reported false values on its properties, potentially to gain banking and tax advantages.

She launched her investigation in March 2019 and suspects that the Trump Organisation fraudulently overstated the value of certain properties when seeking bank loans, and later reported much smaller values when declaring assets so it could pay less tax.

Trump’s son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, was interviewed by James’s office on the issue in October 2020.

The former president is facing pressure from several legal probes.

The Trump Organisation is under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

In July, the Trump Organisation and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

His trial is due to begin in the middle of this year.

Trump was also questioned for more than four hours in October as part of a lawsuit by a group of protestors who allege that his security guards assaulted them six years ago.

In Washington he is trying to prevent a congressional probe into the January 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol from accessing White House records related to that day.

He is also battling to prevent years of his tax returns from being released to prosecutors. — AFP

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